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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sexual provinciality and characterization : a study of some recent Canadian fiction Corbett, Nancy Jean


From its earliest beginning in Frances Brooke’s The History of Emily Montague, set in Canada and published in 1769, women have been prominent in Canadian literature. Since that time, a very large number of Canadian novels written by both men and women have been primarily concerned with a female character. In this thesis, an attempt has been made to determine to what extent an author's fictional world view and characterization is influenced by his sex; the area was narrowed to that of the Canadian novel in the period of approximately 1950-1965. Novels by Brian Moore, Sinclair Ross, Hugh MacLennan, Morley Callaghan, Adele Wiseman, Sheila Watson, Ethel Wilson, and Margaret Laurence were chosen as the main objects of the study. A recurrent theme emerged during the study of these novels; many of the authors appeared deeply concerned with the problem of personal and social isolation, and concluded that evil and fear, compassion and love neither originate outside the self nor remain confined to it. The metaphor used to characterize the fear-based isolation was often that of the wilderness, which might be internal, external, or both. A final conclusion about these novels, which are almost all based primarily on female characters, is that the ones created by women are generally more interesting and convincing. The male novelists tend to emphasize the sexual roles played by their female protagonists, while the women authors have a stronger tendency to write about women as people whose sexuality is important, but whose total personality is not constituted by this one aspect.

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